Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WHOSE Kids are Those?!

So my kids came bursting into my bedroom this morning at 7:30 a.m. where I was re-resting (since I'd been up much earlier) with Cienna, who had had an unusually restless and rough night (I think because we'd gone to the zoo yesterday and she was having nightmares and leftover anxiety about being so close to a real bear, etc.), and they happily shared with me their encounter with their favorite teacher as she was driving by our house this morning.

Kids: “We saw Mrs. Opitz when she was driving to school this morning!”

Me (yawning): “Oh, that’s nice.”

Kids: “She stopped and said hi to us.”

Me (raising my eyebrows a bit): “Oh, she’s so nice…were you guys outside?”

Kids (with great excitement): “Yes. We were down the street (a couple of houses away) waving to Dad at the corner as he went to work.”

Me: Speechless…because it was then that I put everything together (keeping in mind that I’m well-aware of and wanting to improve the “home-school family” stigma): Kids running down the street at 7:30 a.m (with no shoes, I'm sure, but I didn't ask)….favorite teacher of whom I have great respect…and yes, 2 out of 4 kids still in PJs, including young Allison wearing her bright pink nightgown (apparently hearing the commotion at the front door from her bed and not wanting to miss the spontaneously dramatic send-off for Dad, thus jumping up from her pillow and heading straight outside, bed-head and all).

I suddenly had that sinking feeling that most parents hope to avoid, but that we all know is inevitable and quite humbling and increases in frequency throughout the teenage years (I’ve heard). I know my children’s sincere intentions and try to be quite forgiving of their natural, impulsive decision-making (and of course I promptly and gently reminded them about getting dressed before playing outside…unless there's an emergency...like a good-bye to Dad), but I never feel good about contributing to the discomfort of the average person passing by who may make a quick judgment and spend the rest of the day feeling critical and a bit hardened.

But then I remembered: Mrs. Opitz isn’t an average passer-by.

She’s a favorite teacher not only because she’s good at teaching music, but because she understands the hearts of children and appreciates them for their innocence and zest for life. She looks past weaknesses and awkwardness and just makes people feel safe and loved for who they are. (Diggy made a card for her once and said, “I hope she likes it…(deep-in-thought pause)…I know she’ll like it because nice people like everything.”) She connects with kids (and adults) in a way that inspires them to be better people. She’s the type of teacher that kids remember for years to come…

And for me, she is also a dear friend. When I exchanged thoughts with her later today, she said she sincerely enjoyed witnessing the tender good-bye…and the PJs had made it all the more precious.

I think the world would be a different and happier place if there were more people who noticed and cherished life the way Mrs. Opitz does. We would all breath more sighs of relief (I sure did today!)…and at the same time feel more determined to walk a little taller.

Sorry, no pictures this time…thankfully. Winking smile

Thursday, May 12, 2011

12 Years, 24 Roses, and 890 Cinnamon Rolls

Brent and I celebrated our 12th Anniversary this past weekend. Smile 

Brent is an incredible husband who has service at the front of his mind…it is part of who he is…it is what attracted me to him years ago…and it is what has made our marriage stronger with every passing year.

Brent is also the Scoutmaster for the teenage boys at church. And after being married for 12 years, nearly all of which he has served the teenage boys at church…in five different states, I’ve become accustomed to the time commitment it takes. Sacrificing 1-2 nights a week, vacation time for summer scout camp, extra meetings on Sundays, regular campouts, etc, etc.

I thought I’d  become mentally tough in supporting him in these worthy causes, especially after a high adventure trip many years ago turned into a group helicopter rescue while I was home pacing the floor with two young boys wondering why Daddy was so late returning home. (Don’t worry…Brent was fine…he just had to assist a couple of boys who had developed hypothermia after narrowly escaping a whirlpool in the Pacific Ocean.)

Well, a couple of weeks ago we started discussing the possibility of helping his scouts raise summer camp money by baking cinnamon rolls for Mother’s Day. Boys and Moms would have an adventure making them together at our house the day before Mother’s Day—except the day before Mother’s Day was OUR anniversary.   My heart did a flip-flop and I must admit the “What about me and MY needs while I’m 7 months pregnant and hoping to milk the weekend for all it’s worth because it’s my anniversary AND Mother’s Day?!!” thoughts circulated for at least a day and a half.

But then I thought again…what better way to celebrate our mostly blissful years than to do a service project together? I’m a big fan of symbolism. And…what a creative husband I have…we don’t have to plan something extravagant and risk high hopes that it will fulfill great celebratory measurements in comparison to past anniversaries or to the Jones’ fancy outings. 

So cinnamon rolls it was.

It was an honor (and extremely exhausting) to serve and support Brent in his charitable endeavors—something that truly makes him happy—on our special day. I’m usually the recipient of Brent’s service. It was nice, and very fulfilling, to catch up a little.

cinnamon rolls 2cinnamon rolls 3

may 2011 064

Except sales were so successful (89 orders with very little marketing efforts) that a friend volunteered to help with 1/2 the orders. So, my title is deceiving…we really only had to do 9 batches of dough to make 45 pans with 10 rolls per pan, which = 450 cinnamon rolls, plus the other 450-ish rolls, which = more $$ than they were hoping for originally, lots of happy mothers (and fathers who don’t have to worry about burnt toast), and no more fund raisers for another year. Yippee!

may 2011 038We had lots of help from the kids, too!

And because Brent is extra in tune to my emotional state, he brought home 24 roses the day before the big event—12 for our anniversary and 12 for Mother’s Day. I’m not normally much of a flower lover (I like practical gifts like new rags or my annual pair of cheap flip flops), but this time flowers made the tears come…

may 2011 044The girls thought the flowers were very romantic.

And guess what we had for breakfast on Mother’s Day??

may 2011 Happy Mothers Day

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easter Excitement

So much to catch up on and so much to share...
and so little time (and energy) to devote to the blogging world.

But here's my favorite (and only) family picture on Easter:

As we rushed to find car keys right before church, they were finally discovered in the ignition--the windows had been safely rolled up the night before...(which has great meaning because the van's interior was still recovering from an unpleasant stench left by an all-night rainstorm pounding through the open sunroof a week earlier)...and the battery was fully dead in the morning.

But with a husband who handles stress with a sense of adventure, all five kids piled out of the van in their Easter garb and learned how to jump-start a car.

The excitement in the air reminded me that Easter is a good time to take a family photo.